Arsenal Women have played their final game of the 2019-20 season. The campaign, which was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been cancelled following a vote by clubs in the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship.
A statement on the FA’s website read:
Following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019-20 season was made in the best interest of the women’s game. This will also enable clubs, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board and the FA to plan, prepare and focus on next season when football returns for the 2020-21 campaign.
Supporting the welfare of the clubs and players will continue to be our primary concern throughout this process, which also involved a robust and thorough examination of the logistical, operational and financial challenges that the game currently faces.
Following full and thorough consultation with the clubs, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board has discussed various recommendations which will be sent to the FA Board to determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019-20 season.
Thus, decisions on promotion and relegation, qualification for the Women’s Champions League, and the title. There have been various suggestions, but a freeze of the table, or decision on points per game would exclude Arsenal from next season’s Champions League. No decision has yet been made on the Women’s FA Cup, though it seems impossible for the competition to go ahead. Much like the men’s Champions League, a plan to complete the women’s Champions League has not yet been decided. Of the clubs involved in the Women’s Champions League, only the two German clubs, Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, are playing. The other clubs involved have qualified for next year’s campaign.
The reasons for the cessation of the WSL campaign are varied, and an interrogation of the process to stop the league moving forward is worthy. At one level, there is the financial cost moving forward with games behind closed doors and testing. Yet, a study by Lewes FC Women found that would cost £3m—a pittance for a league that has clubs affiliated with successful Premier League teams. There is very little equity if the decision was taken purely because of that financial cost. Yet, there was also a desire from players’ to resolve the league campaign, with safety paramount in those decisions. And without a large broadcast deal, the financial pressure to move forward, that has been seen in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, and the Premier League, was absent.